Friday, July 6, 2012


Thank you for purchasing this Natural Art Fluxus kit. A Fluxkit (as it is also called) comes from the Fluxus movement that formed in the early to mid 1960s. To quote: "Former enemies, German, Japanese, and American artists, became friends and collaborators. Women artists, Shigeko Kubota and Yoko Ono, were able to create and work as equals in an art world that excluded women from other movements, because Fluxus was outside the mainstream art world and outside of the white cube. In such a movement, a Japanese woman who was and American expatriate, Yoko Ono, could find acceptance and a venue for her conceptual art works and performances. An African-American musician, Emmett Williams, could escape American racism in Fluxus. Fluxus was not placed in museums, was thought to be not object based and, therefore, not collectable, and for many decades was ignored by the art world and its critics."  

Fluxus kits were boxes, usually wooden, created by various Fluxus artists containing seemingly nonsensical objects. The goal of these kits were not to create an object of adoration, but to illicit an experience. I came to the idea of creating this Natural Art Fluxus kit after transcribing an interview with Fluxus artist Ben Patterson. He is an African-American Fluxus artist currently living in Germany.  He came back to the United States in 2010 for a retrospective at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston. The CAMH, a lovely museum which neighbors the Rothko Chapel, invited Patterson to show in the same city where in 1956 he, a classically trained double bassist, was rejected to play for the Houston Symphony solely on the basis of his skin color.  The conductor, Leopold Stokowski, loved Patterson's playing, "but was unable to convince the board to hire him".  FYI: Patterson actually visited Macon in 2010 to lecture at Macon's Museum of Arts and Science.  The interview that I transcribed took place at La Dolci Vita Cafe.

While transcribing the interview, I came to realize how the Fluxus Art movement deeply influenced my own art making process. I fell in love with this movement.  I became inspired by Fluxus art. I realized how this movement helped influence the Feminist Art movement, Performance art, Conceptual art, Installation art, and Earth Art. So, how fitting would it be to create a Fluxus kit in homage to these artists who, by taking an immense risk in their time, made it possible and a bit easier for me to make the artwork I create today.  

I started using natural materials as student back in the 90s. My desire to use natural objects came from various experiences with nature. I was raised to love and respect nature from both my family and several of my teachers, who taught ecology and advocated conservation. My first camping trip was when I was eight months old. I spent most summers up in the mountains of Colorado. The rocky landscape became my playground where creating playful installations became my solitude. The backyard of my childhood home was once, during summertime, a field of wheat where me and my childhood friends would create mazes and forts. As a teenager, I would spend many an afternoon hiking  trails in and around Boulder, Co. During these hikes,especially during the  Fall, I would collect leaves and seeds. I would also find myself adventuring out to climb and repel rocks, take moonlight hikes, cross-country skiing, and backpacking with friends and family who shared my love for nature.  During college, I would spend the summers working for the environment: one year, as canvasser  (I worked for CoPIRG canvassing neighborhoods for support for a three recycling bills); another year as a lab assistant (I worked for Colorado Division of Wildlife collecting samples of tissue from trout living in the Arkansas river); and also as an assistant to a field Biologist (I helped install aeration systems in ponds and took water samples). I would also climb the red rocks of Settler's Park with a book in hand and spend the afternoon reading, while intermittently taking, not so brief, moments of contemplation to look at the beautiful panoramic view of the city of Boulder.

By making art with natural materials, I hope to create ephemeral work that cannot truly be owned...that becomes about the process of making art rather than the object...that is in constant flux. I also want my artwork to have a small ecological footprint. I have often wondered how to  and tried many times to create art that is both non-toxic to myself and the environment. As a result, I have discovered new materials that work wonderfully for art making. 

For me, art making is a form of meditation. I am completely in the present moment when creating art, which makes me, like most people who experience the present moment, incredibly happy. Whether through the visual, the audial or the written language, artists have mimicked or collaborated with nature for centuries. Calling out to nature's golden mean to inspire works of art that either becomes venerated from one generation to the next or is simply experienced briefly by the generation it claims home to, expanding beautifully into the viewer's heart and mind only to contract back into nothingness from where it came.   To bare witness to what nature has to offer is the art and nature is the true artist. There is a beauty in this world that should not be taken for granted.  As Wendell Berry said, when talking about seeing a Yellow Throated Warbler, "My mind became beautiful by the sight of him. He had the beauty only of himself alive in the only moment of his life.  He had upon him like a light the whole beauty of the living world that never dies."

QUICK NOTE: I will be posting some DIY natural art projects very soon.  I will post links to this blog site on Facebook.  "Friend" me on FB to keep up with the projects. Also, spend time in nature. I recommend walking Rosehill or Riverside Cemetery. It is so beautiful of my favorite places here in Macon.